So, what will it be this year? Better communication? More development? Operational Superiority? All of the above? These are all good New Year’s resolutions and they are larger than life. For example, what does ‘better communication’ actually mean? To whom will we be a better communicator? What kind of communication will be better: face-to-face, email communication, texting, telephone communication? How will you know that you are a better communicator? What verbal and non-verbal queues will you see that indicate improvement?
Depending on where you sit in the organization, you can count on one thing:
- Every direct report expects and hopes that you will do something better this year compared to last. They hope that this year will be better than last. They hope to see you perform better, and more effectively than last year.
This may excite you or it may present a slight uptick in anxiety. One of your leadership benefits is that you get to be the target of your direct reports expectations, hopes and dreams for one more year. Are we breaking open another bottle of bubbly yet?
You can make it easy by starting with a macro view of things.
Make it Easy
Follow this one rule in 2017:
- Don’t try to boil the ocean. It’s messy and futile and it never works.
Instead, use this simple 4-step process to start the year with a big picture – literally.
This process is built on the premise that picture (image) recall is better than recall of (only) the written word.
First, think about the current state of your organization. What is it like? What does it feel like to you and to others? How do you customers generally describe their experiences? What do you think about the current state of your business or organization? Write the words or phrases that describe your answers to the questions above. Next, log on to iStock Photo or Google Images and search for an image that depicts the current state and print it.
Think about the future state of your business unit or organization that you desire. Write down words and phrases that describe this desired future state. Next, go back to iStockPhoto or Google Images and search for the image that depicts this future state and print it.
Juxtapose the two images and circulate them among your directs reports first. Explain what the two images represent one at a time but not why – yet. First, ask them to describe what they see. Listen to what they say WITHOUT judging their responses.
Finally, it is your turn to explain what the current state image means to you and why. Then, explain what the desired future state image represents to you and why.
This may not be groundbreaking but it a good way to start a conversation that frames how you see the current state and your hopes for the future in 2017. Also, it engages your direct reports and allows them to voice their experiences and hopes for 2017 with you.
The last step is to figure out specifically, how and how each of you can do help move the organization from the current state to the desired future state. This can be a lengthy discussion so don’t expect it to be quick. Reaching the desired state could take many months.
This big picture resolution will help you and your team get on the same page as you all prepare to tackle a make a better 2017 for them, for yourself, your clients and your business.